I continued to watch as additional passengers shared similar stories amongst themselves. A few minutes later, I was able to observe the infamous Thomas first hand. He was loudly arguing with a family in the check-in line. In general, his tone was disrespectful, rude, demeaning, unprofessional and unnecessary. A few gems among the torrent of abuse he hurled at the people he was addressing and anyone within shouting distance:
"Its Saturday morning in Orlando, of course its busy! What did you expect?!!? You should have been here two hours ago!",
"If you don't want to wait, get out of line. We'll cancel your flight!",
"You need to calm down lady, if you don't, we'll cancel your flight!",
"Go ahead and leave the line! Write to the company and never use Airtran again!"
I should point that I was a good 25 - 30 feet from Thomas and I could hear him as clearly as if he was standing next to me. By way of contrast, I could only barely hear the woman with whom he was arguing. She was clearly angry (who wouldn't be after waiting over an hour to check-in?), but was not threatening or swearing.
I do not know if this is Thomas' normal behavior. If it is, then clearly, he is in the wrong line of work. Because, as everyone knows, yelling at customers who are already angry because they have waited for more than an hour to check-in only antagonizes them further and makes the situation worse for everyone.
When I made it to the front desk, I pointed out Thomas' rather alarming behavior to the desk agent who checked our bags. He said that it was his third day on the job in Orlando and he had already observed this behavior on a number of occasions himself, but that it was outside his control. He promised to pass along my observations to a manager because it made his job much, much harder when a colleague abused the customers he was trying to serve.
One can only hope that Thomas gets a nice, relaxing, and customer-free desk job.